Many of our thoughts about parenting are outdated. Used by our parents and others who have come before us, they have been passed on as worn out hand-me downs that no longer fit the time, the place, or us as uncommon parents.
We recently met a man on an airplane who proudly informed us, “Spanking worked for my grandparents, was used on me by my parents, and I am upholding the family tradition. What worked for them will work for me.”
What this young parent doesn’t grasp is that spanking did not work for any of the generations he mentioned. It failed miserably to show children a model other than “might makes right.” It failed to produce grownups who felt no need to hit their own children. It failed to create adults who were skilled enough at parenting not to have to resort to physical punishment. In each generation, spanking failed to help children grow into the type of parent this world so desperately needs—one that models a respect for human dignity even in the midst of holding children accountable for their actions. It failed to break the chain of unskilled parenting.
Do you want to create something new for yourself as a parent and for your children in 2009? If so, it is important to pay attention to your thoughts. Perhaps 2009 is the time to discard some of those old, dysfunctional thoughts and turn them in for new, more helpful ones. Consider the following suggestions.
- If you have been thinking your job is to insist that children follow an outside authority and learn to obey, consider changing your thoughts to thinking your job is to help children develop their own inner-authority.
- Do you think the most important part of what just happened with your children is what you do about what just happened with your children? If so, why not alter that thought? Think instead that the most important part of what just happened with your children is how you choose to be in response to what just happened.
- Do you think judgmental thoughts about mistakes your children make, seeing mistakes as bad and as behavior to be avoided? If so, 2009 could become the year to think of mistakes as learning experiences and opportunities for teaching.
- If your thoughts reveal a demand that your children think, feel, and act the way you do, rethink that traditional parenting position. Take an uncommon parenting approach by thinking thoughts that recognize that your children are different from you and encourage them to become their own person.
- A thought system that continually looks for your children to improve can be altered to one that helps you look inward to examine your own beliefs, skills, and attitudes about parenting. In that way, you can come to believe that in order to raise children who grow up to be like no one else, you have to raise yourself first by working to raise your consciousness so you can parent like no one else.
- Do you think it is your job as a parent to fill your children up with goodness? Think instead, in 2009, that your real job is to find the goodness in your children that already exists and allow it to emerge.
The important change you are looking for in 2009 may well be a change emanating from deep within yourself. Remember, you can think whatever thoughts you want about the sacred role of parenting. And you can believe whatever you want to believe. Choose carefully because whatever you think and believe, you will create as true for yourself.